Today’s workforce doesn’t want stale and outdated cubicles where they sit all day, rarely having the opportunity to collaborate or speak with their colleagues. While this sentiment gained traction long before the pandemic, COVID-19 truly revealed how important connection, autonomy, collaboration, and mental health are. As the world’s values change, so must the workplace, and creating a flexible work environment is a fantastic way to increase productivity, employee retention, and satisfaction. If you’re looking to create an environment that centers on actual human beings, let’s review how to create a flexible workspace that your employees will thank you for.
Comfortable, Movable Furniture
Heavy-to-move, clunky furniture, or furniture bolted to the floor is the opposite of flexible. Office furnishings should be easily moveable, which makes the room itself more flexible. People can reorganize a space to create diverse layouts that suit their needs. However, just because a piece of furniture is lightweight and moveable doesn’t make it conducive to a people-centered workplace. If the furniture is uncomfortable to use or sit in, employees won’t want to work there, rendering it useless.
Some business owners believe that comfortable furniture doesn’t have a place at work and makes people lazy, but it’s quite the opposite. While there is a connection between comfort and workplace productivity, it certainly isn’t a negative one. The more comfortable employees are, the happier they are, which undoubtedly helps them work better.
Flexible Meeting and Collaboration Spaces
Whether employees need to have a large meeting or a one-on-one conference, there should be rooms dedicated to meeting the needs of multiple collaborative modes. Employees should have the ability to lead a presentation, brainstorm, or hold a group meeting all in one room. Additionally, if no one is currently using the room, it should also be a space where coworkers feel comfortable sitting and even socializing with one another.
Writeable surfaces such as whiteboards and chalkboards are a must, as well as areas for integrated media. Additionally, these rooms should never feel closed off. While they can have walls for privacy, glass walls or movable partitions should also be a part of the room’s design so the space feels open and less oppressive. It’s also wise to make a reservation system that’s easy to use, and everyone in the office can clearly see. This way, there’s no confusion when someone needs to book a room.
Designated Workspaces and Quiet Zones
Having quiet zones and designated workspaces may seem counterintuitive when the goal is to collaborate with one another. However, the primary purpose of a flexible workspace is to give employees autonomy. Sometimes, they’ll need a quiet zone where they can sit on a comfortable chair without noise or distractions, even if they just need a mental break.
Also, “designated workspaces” doesn’t necessarily mean assigned seating. It just means that there are spaces where employees can work alone, even if it’s not a completely silent, quiet zone. They can just sit at a table near the necessary plugs, printers, and computers to get their work done. You can also provide small placards or flags that indicate when co-workers should leave the person alone to work or if they’re available to chat. When you create an effective, flexible workspace, employees can make choices that facilitate their needs so they can work comfortably and efficiently.